Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been a part of http://oneword365.com/ long before it was trendy. Basically, instead of making a long list of New Year’s resolutions (which most likely will be ditched somewhere around the fourth week in), participants are encouraged to choose just one word to guide them throughout the year. While this official tribe of online one-worders came into existence in 2009, God and I have had our own little wordfest going for much longer than that.
Unlike the people who choose a word to intentionally apply to their lives, I’ve more often fallen into the word God has chosen for me. Sometimes the word made sense right from the beginning, other times I was a little slower in putting it all together. But come it did, ready or not.
The themes throughout the years have encouraged and stretched me in a variety of ways. Some words have been positive, others not so much so. Like the year soul-weary continued to tug at my heartstrings — a desert year of bearing many burdens and stumbling blindly through prayers and heartache while learning to cling desperately to Jesus through it all. Then there was steadfast — a more positive word to be sure, one that grew me in both strength and tenacity There was even the baffling word travel as an overarching theme I felt was to be applied to both my husband and me. Surprisingly, that year found us skipping the country in trips to England and Haiti and Africa and Mexico. Whew! The words have continued to come and go with each passing year, being fulfilled in a variety of ways, but always reminding me of God’s faithfulness as He walked through each one of them alongside me.
This year the word is gather.
With Jesus’ reminder that he who does not gather scatters, I enter this year with a no-neutral mindset. I can no longer light a lamp only to stick it under a basket, dimming its glow. Instead, I’m being prodded to shine a little more brightly and to invite others to experience the glow alongside me (flickering though it may be).
This year I am gathering.
I want my home to become an anchor for friends and strangers, alike. A place to steady and return to the quietness within each soul who enters. I want this to be a safe place where realness can happen and love can stand strong. Lasting. A gathering ground for young and old. Where strangers become family, and family stays friends.
May this dwelling provide space to breathe deeply and freely. To laugh until stomachs hurt. To cry until tears are spent. To talk late into the night. To pitch a blanket on the floor and linger long, sharing stories of yesteryear and dreams for the future. May this be a place of acceptance, while still challenging us all to become better image-bearers of Jesus. Where trust and love run deep and wide enough to cover all wrongs. A place where we grow up and together. Facing the good and bad times with this precious tribe of family, related by bloodline or not.
While I want to fling the doors of my home wide, I realize gathering comes in a variety of ways and places, sometimes stretching across the miles to wrap people in my prayers when they are beyond the reach of my arms. This past week has been one of gathering in that way:
Gathering a brokenhearted friend close, listening to her pour out her tears and her pain across phone lines, praying all the while for God to give her strength in a situation that makes no sense.
Gathering a young man and his family whose lives have been altered by an in-school shooting, multiple bullets tearing into his body and the surrounding community with hurt and fears.
Gathering the young shooter and his family, asking for hearts to be turned to Jesus and for love to be extended in supernatural ways.
Gathering a friend’s aging parent, requesting healing while holding them all close in my heart.
Gathering to rejoice over new babies and answered prayers alongside my plea for others to be gifted with grace, to have their tears wiped away and their hurts vanquished by a loving Savior.
While I want to gather folks into my home, it’s not always possible to do so, but I can always, always gather them into my prayers. And in this way, I am gathering them into the presence of Jesus, as well. Taking them before the throne of grace and pleading alongside them in the spiritual realm.
A gathering of souls united by the Soul-keeper Himself.
This year, I’m determined to gather others and look for hope together. Standing in the gap to draw loved ones near. To hold close and for keeps those forever friends who live far from me. And to make new ones, too. Planting seeds and letting roots grow deep, no matter if they be transplanted to places abroad. This is a place to be held, whether near or far.
This is a place of gathering.
Where souls are anchored, yet simultaneously strengthened to set sail on open seas.
Where hearts are filled and heaviness is lifted.
And peace is large and grace is free for the asking.
Yes, let this be a year of gathering.
Find your tribe for 2017. Join in the one-word challenge @ http://oneword365.com/